This feature asks how tightly combined the overt past marker and the verb form are, especially which elements (if any) may intervene between the past marker and the verb.
If a language has an overt perfective past marker as well as an overt imperfective past marker, we take into account only the past marker which is used in imperfective contexts (typically with stative predicates to denote past and with nonstative predicates to denote past progressive or past habitual).
This chapter parallels Chapter 46 on the tightness of the link between the progressive marker and the verb.
For this feature, we distinguish seven values:
|Particle, nothing can intervene||4|
|Particle, only grammatical markers can intervene||17|
|Particle, a few lexical items may intervene||22|
|Particle, open-class items may intervene||2|
|Particle, clause-second position||1|
|No overt past marker exists||16|
Value 1 (the past marker is an affix) occurs in four Portuguese-based languages (Cape Verdean Creole of Brava, Cape Verdean Creole of Santiago, Korlai, Sri Lanka Portuguese), in two English-based languages (African American English, Singlish), in three Bantu-based languages (Fanakalo, Kikongo-Kituba, Lingala), as well as in Media Lengua, Michif, Sri Lankan Malay, and Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu.
Value 2 (the past marker is a particle, and nothing can intervene) only occurs in four languages (Diu Indo-Portuguese, Nicaraguan Creole English, Trinidad Creole, and Reunion Creole). Note that in Chapter 46 (on the tightness between the progressive marker and the verb), the same value 2 is the most widespread value (31 languages), and this would corroborate Bybee’s (1985: 33-35) hypothesis that aspect is located more closely to the verb than tense.
The dividing line between an affix and a particle which does not allow for an element to intervene between it and the verb is not always clear-cut. This means that, for some of the languages with value 2, value 1 might be more adequate.
Value 3 (the past marker is a particle, only grammatical markers may intervene) occurs in nine English-based, in three Ibero-Romance-based, in one French-based, in two Dutch-based, and in two Arabic-based languages. In these languages, other TAM markers and negators are reported to intervene between the past marker and the verb.
Value 4 (the past marker is a particle, and a few lexical items may intervene) occurs in eleven English-based languages, in five Iberian-based languages, in six French-based languages, and in the bilingual mixed language Gurindji Kriol. In these languages, adverbs (especially time adverbs), and object pronouns are reported to occur between the past marker and the verb. Note that object pronouns only occur in Guinea-Bissau Kriyol, whose past marker follows the verb (in contrast to the other languages exhibiting this feature, whose past markers precede the verb).
Value 6 (particle, clause-second position) only pertains to Afrikaans. Afrikaans has a past auxiliary, het, which is strictly adjacent if occurring in non-finite contexts; if it occurs in finite sentences, it occupies a clause-second position, and therefore many items may intervene between het and the verb, as in the following example:
Value 7 (no overt past marker) occurs in five Ibero-Romance-based languages (Batavia Creole, Cavite Chabacano, Papiá Kristang, Ternate Chabacano, Zamboanga Chabacano), in two English-based languages (Bislama, Ghanaian Pidgin English), in two Malay-based languages (Ambon Malay, Singapore Bazaar Malay), as well as in Tayo, in Chinese Pidgin Russian, in Chinuk Wawa, in Sango, in Pidgin Hawaiian, in Pidgin Hindustani, and in Yimas-Arafundi Pidgin.
Out of these 16 languages, 10 are purely aspectual languages (see Chapter 49 on tense-aspect systems, value 1). Value 7 of this chapter and value 1 of Chapter 49 are related, since purely aspectual systems lack a past tense marker. Note that perfective aspect markers do not count as past markers in this context.